Affordable Iconic Cars: BMW 635CSi


As far as I was concerned Bruce Willis could never top being David Addison in Moonlighting. As a 16-year-old, I didn’t know that receding hairlines and patterned jumpers could be so cool. I tried to emulate him, but it became obvious that such a look only suited someone 25 years my senior and what self-respecting teenage girl looks twice at a boy sporting a wooly crew neck sweater?

However, David and his employer Maddie Hayes’ champagne coloured BMW 6 series CSI would have looked good on me. God, I loved that car, even though it was brown, and from then on my love affair with the 6 series began. I lusted after CSI’s, and as a teenager it was the first car I ever mourned when the series ended. I remember feeling guilty even contemplating looking at another car.

A few years later I managed to blag my way into the driver’s seat of an M6 at London’s Motor show, making out that I indeed owned a 6 but a lowly 628. I was in need of something a little more nimble on my imaginary trans European driving routes. I kid myself still that I pulled it off, but really, the spots and poor dress sense must surely have been writ large and the salesman took pity on me.

By: Ramin Ekhtiar
By: Ramin Ekhtiar

The last E24 635’s rolled off the lines in Bavaria in 1989, making these cars at least 24 years old. Obviously my favourite would be the M6. They are definitely the most expensive and all came with a manual transmission, which suits me just fine.

Its power figures seem paltry to cars offered today. The M series produced 286bhp (210kW), smaller still if you find a US version with the catalytic converter that was introduced in 1987. The 635 generated only 215bhp (160kW), which is less than a contemporary hot hatch these days. However, the smooth ride, handling and sheer theatre of driving what must surely be the best looking Bimmer they have ever made makes it very much worth it. They were built to be a Grand Tourer, so munched kilometres for breakfast and spat out its driver after hours at the wheel with imperceptible back and leg ache.

Sadly finding an M6 in Australia is nigh on impossible. Most found their way to the States so perhaps it may be worth looking there. You can find the odd M635CSI however for around $38k, though the two I came across today have around 200,000k on the clock. There are far more CSI’s around and range from $20k down to as little $8k. As ever, it is always better to spend as much as you can afford, as going bargain basement may be a double-edged sword.

But, and you must have known this was coming, they can be expensive to maintain, unless you are handy with a spanner. Prevention is always better than cure, remember, so finding a good local specialist will pay dividends.

By: Nan Palmero
By: Nan Palmero

From what I gather, as long as the oil is changed every 8-10,000 km, you can expect the engine to last.

The automatic transmission is probably the weakest link, and often gives up the ghost around 160,000km. So bear this is mind if the car you are looking at has more than 130k on the clock and build the potential cost for a new tranny into your negotiations.

The drivetrain is strong but the drive shaft u-joints probably need some inspection. Regular maintenance, especially on the M6 is important, paying particular attention to valve and timing components.

Rust can infect the seams along the sides of the engine bay, and check the shock towers for any corrosion.

Make sure all electric gadgetry works, such as the windows, seats, lights on the dashboard etc.

All this being said, I still want one and after writing this I am formulating reasons and ways in my head to raid my overdraft, forget I have too many people in my family and trade my Disco in for something more Teutonic.


By: Ramin Ekhtiar
By: Ramin Ekhtiar